THERE WILL BE NO MORE NGOs PARTICIPATION BECAUSE OF 'PORK' SCAM
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 (PHILSTAR ) By Jess Diaz - The House of Representatives has decided to ban non-government organizations (NGOs) from having access to the pork barrel funds that it will distribute among state agencies.
“Sorry to legitimate NGOs, but there will be no more NGO participation because of the pork barrel scam,” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a vice chairman of the appropriations committee, told reporters yesterday.
He said the lump sum Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that the House would delete from the proposed 2014 national budget would be distributed among executive agencies.
“It is these agencies that will have control and discretion over the funds. We will have no discretion. We can submit recommendations to these agencies, but they can reject them. It is they that will have discretion. As of now, the perception is we own those funds,” Evardone said.
He said the banning of NGOs, the transfer of funds to agencies and the elimination of lawmakers’ discretion are all designed to “reduce or eliminate opportunities for corruption.”
“If there will be corruption, blame it on the agencies,” he added.
The House has not yet decided which agencies would get augmentations from the PDAF.
Evardone said they are thinking of the Department of Health (DOH) for medical assistance, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for college scholarships and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for select infrastructure projects.
“As of now, we provide medical assistance by giving funds directly to government hospitals, where we refer those seeking and needing our help. Under the plan, the funds would be given to DOH, which will decide on who to help. The same will apply to CHED,” he said.
In the case of infrastructure projects, only concreting of roads would be allowed and the roads to be built would be itemized in the budget together with their funding, he said.
“This system will be transparent. People will know where the roads to be concreted are located and the amount of funds allocated for them. It will be easier for all those interested to check,” he added.
“Projects that easily evaporate or banish at the slightest drop of rain like river dredging or clearing, and road graveling or re-graveling will not be allowed,” he stressed.
He pointed out that in the case of funds that would go to DOH and CHED, it would be difficult to identify in advance the beneficiaries of scholarships and medical assistance.
“But Congress has to provide those funds so we can help those who are sick or who want to go to college but who have no money. These are the people who get assistance with the funds over which we have discretion under the present set-up but which we will now give up to the agencies,” he stressed.
Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said the efforts to reform the pork barrel fund system as well the expected timely passage of the proposed P2.3-trillion national budget for 2014 would likely boost investor confidence and lead to more upgrades in the country’s ratings.
Ungab said the House of Representatives is working overtime in scrutinizing the proposed General Appropriations Act submitted by Malacañang so that it would be enacted into law by the end of the year.
“The PDAF should not distract us,” Ungab told The STAR. “It’s only one percent of the entire P2.268 trillion budget.”
He said the 99 percent of the budget is more important and that “we should have an approved national budget on the first day of 2014 for operations, infrastructure, socio-economic and poverty alleviation projects.”
He said Congress consistently passed the national budget on time in the past three years that led to the country earning investment grade status.
The ratings upgrade significantly contributed to a manageable budget deficit and helped the country achieve seven percent growth in the first two quarters of the year, he said.
Meanwhile, Pangasinan Second District Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil expressed support for the abolition of the PDAF.
Bataoil said as the people’s representative in Congress, “I can and will perform my job with dedication and commitment as I have done in the 15th Congress where I registered a perfect attendance and actively participated in most parliamentary duties.”
“I will make sure that it (government funds) benefits our respective constituents being taxpayers themselves by way of close monitoring of implementation of every project in accordance with program of work and with utmost transparency,” Bataoil added.
He assured the people that there would be no ghost projects in his district. With Paolo Romero, Eva Visperas
FROM THE INQUIRER
Palace: ‘Three Furies’ will prosecute people in non-Napoles NGO scandal By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:57 am | Friday, September 6th, 2013
Worried that other bogus people’s organizations that benefited from the pork barrel scam would get scot-free?
The so-called “Three Furies” will surely prosecute them, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Thursday, dismissing fears that the high-profile investigation into the misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) will only target agencies controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Lacierda was referring to the triumvirate of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Grace Pulido-Tan who led the eight-member Interagency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) that would look into the misuse of pork barrel funds uncovered in a special audit from 2007 to 2009.
The IAAGCC has a mandate to investigate nongovernment organizations (NGOs) outside the influence of Napoles.
“The President tasked the IAAGCC to investigate the 2007-2009 special audit report. So that is going to be part of the mandate of the IAAGCC,” Lacierda said in news briefing. “They will investigate these NGOs besides the Napoles [group].”
The special audit mentioned that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had channeled P5 million of his pork barrel to the Kaloocan Assistance Council Inc. (KACI) through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), when he was still a senator.
In defense of Roxas
Told about it, Lacierda said: “Any responsible reading of the COA report will show [that] Secretary Mar is not on the unliquidated list; he is not on the self-created NGO list; he is not on the fake or ghost NGO list; he is not on the Napoles-related list. In fact, he is not on any list that points to anomalies.”
Lacierda noted that the KACI had already explained to the COA how it spent funds provided by the PDAF of then Senator Roxas.
“What that NGO has to explain to the COA is why did it spend part of that fund to provide financial assistance to its employees? That’s the question that that particular KACI should answer,” Lacierda said.
He said Roxas was very transparent in his use of his PDAF.
“If there are any documents that are requested from him, he is willing to provide [them]. That’s why he was surprised that there was any—there was a statement that he was not prepared to provide documents. He is willing to provide all the documents,” Lacierda said.
“This is only a P5-million fund that was being stated. I don’t know why this is being made an issue. In his years of public service, Secretary Mar Roxas has never been tainted with any allegation of anomaly. So if you’re asking Secretary Mar Roxas if he is willing to provide documents, yes, he is willing to provide documents and all these can be found in the audit report of COA,” Lacierda said.
“Any suggestion that Secretary Mar Roxas is involved in any scam is malicious,” he added.
The COA report said Roxas’ PDAF release to KACI was lumped together with those of other lawmakers used to cover “grant of financial assistance and procurement of various sports, livelihood supplies, medicine, antirabies, training materials and assorted reading glasses from 14 suppliers/providers.”
The KACI reportedly received P133.6 million for 21 PDAF-funded projects coursed through the DSWD.
Other legislators with KACI projects, several of which remained unliquidated, were then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (P10 million); Caloocan City Representatives Oscar Malapitan (P25.3 million), Luis Asistio (P25 million) and Mary Mitzi Cajayon (P30.3 million); then Quezon City Rep. Vincent Crisologo (P18 million), and then Navotas-Malabon Rep. Alvin Sandoval (P20 million).
Roxas was not among those with unliquidated funds, Lacierda said. His P5-million PDAF was spent on administrative expenses, while P100,000 was given as financial or educational assistance to the NGO’s employees.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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